Your brother calls me from upstairs.
Heart pounding, I race to reach you.
Vomiting, burning with fever,
Heart rate too fast, gasping for breath.
Nurses’ brain takes over.
Pushes the mother self roughly away.
Time slows to a crawl.
Airway, breathing, circulation.
A mantra we all learn,
Tattooed on the slick folds of the brain.
The call to 911.
Endless moments until they arrive.
As I circle around you,
Monitoring, ministering, comforting,
Detached, but loving,
While the mother wails inside,
Locked away for my own protection.
How many times love?
How many ruptures of these selves?
One confidently acting,
The other weeping, reaching,
But held away.
I cannot, would not lose these memories,
That come in flashbacks,
And haunt my dreams.
Some of my best nursing moments,
Where I shone as a provider.
But that schism left scars.
And that same proud nurse,
And frightened mother,
Circle each other like rabid wolves,
Equally ferocious in their love for you,
And refusing to let go.